Thursday, November 18, 2010

November 19, 2010

Good Morning Instructors,

Are you looking for a new way to show your students a course trend? Or maybe there is a discussion board topic where a select group of words is highly repeated by many students, which could offer strong insight into the importance of these words or the course concepts being explored? Would a visual image help to convey the significance of certain words or concepts? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you may be interested in checking out what Wordle could do for you.

What is Wordle you ask? Well, according to Wordle's website ( "Wordle is a toy for generating 'word clouds' from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text." Understanding what Wordle truly is makes more sense when you actually see it though - after all it is a visual representation - so I encourage you to click here to check it out!

Diane Maki, one of our MBA instructors, created a Wordle in one of her discussion boards this quarter and shared the image with her students, which spurred even more critical thinking, discussion, and insights. She shared with me that students responded very positively to her use of Wordle, and I could see it really helping to drive home the point of the importance of certain words and concepts for students. Click here to check it out for yourself and see some samples in the gallery.

If you have any questions or you give this a try and have some feedback, please let me know.

Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, I won't be posting to my blog next week. My next post will be on Friday, December 3rd. And just as Diane shared this tool with me to share with the rest of you (THANKS DIANE!) please be sure to let me know of any great resources you may be using in your courses that could benefit others as well.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday! In addition to celebrating Thanksgiving, my family will also be celebrating my son's birthday as he turns 2 on Thanksgiving - so we'll be having pie AND cake at my house! Once again, have a great Thanksgiving!

Heather Thomton-Stockman
Online Instructional Specialist

Friday, November 12, 2010

November 12, 2010

Good Morning Instructors!

I hope you are enjoying the various in-service sessions today. In the break-out session I facilitated we explored a cool new interactive presentation tool called Prezi. If you weren't able to attend the session but are curious about what it is, please check out the Elluminate presentation session and/or the PowerPoint for the presentation in the faculty course once they become available. And if you have any questions on this fun tool, let me know.

You can also check out Prezi here; and Kelly Schmidt has graciously shared with us a sample Prezi she used this quarter in her classes as part of her Meet Your Instructor profile.

Check these out and let me know what you think!

Have a great weekend!

Heather Thomton-Stockman
Online Instructional Specialist

Friday, November 5, 2010

November 5, 2010

Good Afternoon Instructors,

With mid-quarter upon us, I thought this would be a great opportunity to bring up the benefits of Grading Rubrics. Grading Rubrics are an excellent tool to help increase grading consistency and student-to-student fairness, and is a solid mechanism to hurdle over the grading inflation obstacle we are often faced with. By clearly and directly breaking down the point system for assignments, exams, and even discussion boards, you as the instructor are sharing with your students what the assignment/exam/discussion board expectations are, and you then have a set criteria to base your evaluation of off. This allows you and your students to be on the same page.

When grading student work, you want to not only use the grading rubric as a guide, but also reference it in the feedback for students directly. Rather than offer feedback and then give a general score of 41/50, for example, I encourage you to use the grading rubric categories to offer specific reference to where the student earned points directly.

For example, the 41/50 reference above may actually be reflective of:
  • Essay Development: 9/10;
  • Articulation of Course Content Comprehension: 12/15;
  • Effective and Appropriate Application of Course Content: 11/15; and
  • Grammar/Mechanics: 9/10
By sharing this information directly with students, in addition to specific written feedback for each section, students then know more directly the areas they did well in and the areas they need to work on and why. They also then have the original grading rubric which will be much more detailed in the break-down of expectations for each category that offers the student even more insight into the score they earned.

If you've never created a grading rubric, please do not be intimidated, the following are some great online Grading Rubric creation sites that offer you templates and guide you through the process, making it really easy:
If you have any questions on grading rubrics or how to use them in your classes, please let me know. And if you already have or create a rubric that works really well for a particular assignment, please let us know, it may be something to add to the master course shell for all sections to benefit from.

Have a great weekend!

Heather Thomton-Stockman
Online Instructional Specialist